What I Learned from the Desert and the Nomads?

The desert nomads knew this, which is why their culture had survived for millennia by adapting to the desert rather than attempting to dominate it. From the beginning I realized I must learn what they had to teach, and to do things their way: to achieve this meant seeing the desert through their eyes.

Spirit of the Desert

A nomad I once travelled with told me that love is a way of knowledge.. ‘You can only love what you know,’ he said, ‘and what you don’t love you can never know completely.’ That made sense to me because from the moment I first stood in the desert, breathed desert air, sensed the desert wind on my face, I felt that I already knew it deep inside.

The beautiful nature in the UAE

We cannot Conquere the Nature

Exploration is seen as a form of conquest, a test of ‘mind over matter’, but it was not that way for me. Civilized humans have tamed, exploited and destroyed Nature, but they cannot conquer it – we cannot conquer that of which we are just an unfolding, and to try is to end up by destroying ourselves.

The desert nomads knew this, which is why their culture had survived for millennia by adapting to the desert rather than attempting to dominate it. From the beginning I realized I must learn what they had to teach, and to do things their way: to achieve this meant seeing the desert through their eyes.

This is not to say that Nature is necessarily sweet and peaceful – the desert can be harsh, terrible and wild: there are times when you need all your strength and determination to prevail. Wind, storms, heat and cold are part of Gaia’s purpose, and there is also beauty in them: as the pandemic has shown us, we cannot evade death by building walls around our lives.

Minimize Distance between us and Nature

While we continue to separate ourselves from Nature, though, we will never know it completely, and therefore we will not love it. Since Nature is also us, that means remaining strangers to ourselves. The spirit of the Earth can’t be known from a ‘safe distance’ or from a stance of superiority. As the nomads taught me, it is only by humility, by loving the Earth, ourselves, and each other, that we can survive.

Only the Nomads Know the others not; the Animals are not a Personal Property but Gift of God


Michael Asher FRSL (born 1953) is an author, historian, deep ecologist and desert explorer who has covered more than 30,000 miles on foot and camel. He spent three years living with a traditional nomadic tribe in Sudan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Asher_(explorer)?fbclid=IwAR3nTyCqLgUIL-XR9sPSvMcgP0_YP6Pe_WEvPqz1WeJfKvcnh0FC38wOyJY

Michael is my friend on Facebook and I’m keenly following his journies and the diaries he shares on his page. Here is the story of his connection with the nomads and the point of view of the nomads about their animals. It is very interesting and touching story. I share here in the ensuing lines.

The Secret

There had been a severe drought that year, and many nomads had lost animals. On the way back from the north, Rafig and I came across a tent pitched in a wadi, belonging to the family of a nomad called Saleem. He was a wiry, friendly-looking man who welcomed us to the camp, brought us kisri, dried dates and sweet tea, and only casually dropped into the conversation that all his camels and sheep had died of starvation. ‘We have nothing left’, he said. ‘Not even a camel to move our things to the camp of my brother-in-law, Musallim.’

Camels with light luggage walking towards the destination in the desert

Rafig hesitated a moment, then said, ‘use our camels, Saleem. We aren’t carrying much, and we like walking.’He caught my eye: all I could do was nod.

Saleem’s family, including the small children, was up before dawn, rolling up the tent, packing household goods, loading them on our camels until they were well and truly burdened. As the sun rose in a scintillating star-shape, we were already on our way, climbing up the banks of the wadi into open desert.

Animals are not Belong us but in our Safe Keeping

At mid-morning I walked along with Saleem. For a man who had just lost everything, he seemed very cheerful. ‘It’s in the hands of God,’ he told me. ‘Camels are the Gift of God and what God gives he can take away. The animals do not belong to us, they are only in our safe-keeping.’

Later when Rafig and I were walking together I asked him about this. ‘Saleem has lost all his animals,’ he explained, ‘but he has not lost his name, because his name does not depend on owning animals. A man’s name – or a woman’s – depends on human-ness, that is, being brave and resilient, treating others with kindness and generosity, and keeping faith with the family. If a person has these qualities, they can endure misfortune.’

Saleem told me that his wife’s brother would give him a camel when they reached his camp, and would make sure they always had milk and food. ‘I will herd his camels along with his sons,’ he added, ‘and he will give me a she-camel every season – more than one if the grazing is abundant. Those she-camels will give birth, and, if God wills, the foals will be many. Soon we will have enough animals to support the family.’

The Nomads’ tent in the desert

His brother-in-law would do this, I understood, not because he expected Saleem to pay him back personally, but because, if he himself were ever in need, he would be treated in the same way by the community. I realized that Rafig had offered our camels in this spirit, not for reward, but because the time might come when we were in Saleem’s position.

It took two days to reach Musallim’s camp – a camel’s hair tent and some brushwood shelters in a grove of sallam trees. His family welcomed everyone as honoured guests, and brought us fresh camel’s milk and kisri.

The Lesson

This experience taught me a profound lesson. The nomads understood that humans do not control nature, and that wealth is ephemeral – something our society has forgotten. For them, true wealth and security lay in personal relations, defined not by competition, but by ‘muhanni’ – mutual-aid, good will, kindness and generosity. The ‘secret’ of their survival – and well being – in the desert, for generations, was not conquest of the landbase, but their trust in and love for nature, including other human beings.

The Wildlife of The World’s Deserts – Part 1 – Asia — naturetails

Last week my post was about the desert Antarctica. This week I am following with the deserts of Asia. Posts about all of the world’s deserts will follow in the next few weeks. For thousands of years, deserts had power over our imagination as a vast and barren terrain, leading into the unknown and unseen […]

The Wildlife of The World’s Deserts – Part 1 – Asia — naturetails

The Wildlife of the World’s Deserts – Part 11 – The Desierto de Tabernas – Europe — naturetails

Desierto de Tabernas The closest Europe has to a true desert is located in south-east Spain, some 20 kilometres north of the city of Almeria. It is a shallow depression between the Sierra de Los Filabres to the north and the Sierra Alhamilla to the south. This was the area’s fossilised coral reefs that during […]

The Wildlife of the World’s Deserts – Part 11 – The Desierto de Tabernas – Europe — naturetails

The Golden Beauty of Camel

Camels are beautiful and very much resemble to their habitat like other animals. The golden red sand of the Alain gives a very special shade to the Arabian camels. To see the stunning beauty, go to the link below.

Please like, share and comment our page, camel4all. Also, support our cause with some suggestions for improvement and better outlook of the video and channel.

Sandy or Deserted, Richland vs Poorland

The land cover with the sands is sandy, commonly known as desert. But all the sandy soil are not deserted soil. To me, deserted mean the land abused by the factory farming or monocultural farming, full of the residues of the pesticides, weedicides and chemicals.

The monoculture farming is hazardous to the flora and fauna and kill the mother earth natural health.

The sandy soils are commonly known as deserts because of the poor/low annual precipitation. When there is enough precipitation, such sandy lands turn into lush green meadows. Such lands are the reservoirs of the plants and animal genetic resources. The plants of the deserts are very beautiful with attractive flowers. https://camel4all.blog/2019/12/09/beautiful-flowers-and-fruits-of-wild-flora-of-united-arab-emirates/

In thins blog, I have to share some very beautiful pictures which I took yesterday in the evening time. We received some few rains last 3 weeks and now the desert is very beautiful and full of beautiful shrubs and flowers.

The sandy deserts are blessed with very special plants which conserve moisture in their cushions, hairy to divert evaporation moisture and hardy to resist strong sunshine.

We just need to place some inputs like reseeding of native plants, protection from grazing for a certain period and some landscape adjustment, we can turn the sandy desert into a shrubland.

The Camels Love the Water

Camels can survive and perform without water for 2 weeks but if they find water they love it. When I was shooting the pictures, the temperature was 45.5 Celsius that time but they were absorbing the sharp sunshine while enjoying the water.

They especially love water when it is gushing from a broken water supply pipes or coming from a spring. Yesterday afternoon, I saw these 2 camels enjoying water in the desert.

Based on my desert exploration work and knowledge, all the desert creatures (flora and fauna) are highly resilient to the water scarcity but when they found it, they know how to enjoy, consume and conserve for the needy days.

You can see the Acacia tortilis tree in the driest terrain of the desert, they are happy and flourishing without water for hundreds of days but whenever they get rains, they enjoy and conserve water for the dry period.


The desert ecosystem is rich with unique and super genetic resources both of flora and fauna diversity. They are well design for the harsh and hardy climatic conditions and support the human being in these ecosystem. We just need to admire, respect, sustainably use and conserve for the next generation.

The world camel day is approaching on 22nd June, the main theme is the awareness about the role of camel as food security animal in the challenging climatic conditions. http://camel4all.com/world-camel-day-22nd-june-2019-is-approaching/

Dipterygium glaucum الصفروی, A Plant that is Liked such as Icecream by the Camels and Goats. Part 4

The camels are highly adapted to the harsh and hostile climates of the sphere. The 3 important adaptation strategies are the tools in such climates, i.e. 1. depending for food based on plants which are hardy, dry and bitter/salty (usually avoid by other livestock. 2. Long walking ability to reach to the places where food is available. 3. Body physiology to cope with the burning temperature with the scarcity of water.

Series of Camel ice-cream plants species is continuous process, the outcome of desert walks

Being an ethnoecologist and ethnobotanist, I have started characterization, documentation and reporting about the plants species which are liked as icecream by the camels. You can read about the series as 1, 2, 3 in the links below.

  1. https://camel4all.blog/2017/12/17/the-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/
  2. https://camel4all.blog/2017/12/17/the-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/
  3. https://camel4all.blog/2017/12/21/part-2-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/
  4. https://camel4all.blog/2018/06/24/plants-that-are-liked-such-as-icecream-by-the-camels-part-3/
  5. https://camel4all.blog/2019/05/05/camels-flower-%D8%B2%D9%87%D8%B1-tribulus-is-the-precious-flora-of-the-arabian-desert/

This Article is About Dipterygium glaucum الصفروی

This plant is also liked by camels very much. The plant has rich nutritional value as well as used as a herbal source of medicine. The camel love the plant especially when it is in flowering and seeding stages. I think they like it in these stages because of the aroma and the high protein contents of flowers and seeds respectively. The plants is very strong, powerful to resist the winds of the desert. The multiple branches make it stronger and a source of protection for different insects and reptiles.

I have explored the camel desirability towards this plant during my desert exploration walks. Some ethnoveterinarian suggest this plant in flowering stage as a good source of revitalizing camel body. When the seed is matured, the camel like it even more.

Ethnoherbal Role of the Plant

The tiny flowers of the plants work as a strong laxative agent. The shoots with flowers is a source of flashing the digestive system of the livestock as well as human being. It is also given to camels suffering weakness. and lower desire to food.

The Plant is a Heaven for Bees and other Fauna

The plant has very attractive flowers with yellow color and strong smell, making it very attractive for the wasps, bees and other insects. The multiple branches and dense cover, it is an attraction for the reptiles so they can hide and feel safe.

The Desert Precious Biodiversity is Depleting

Unfortunately, many precious desert plants including this one, are depleting, because of many reasons. This plant really need to be well studies, documented and identify the status and the risk factors. Such plants can ensure sustainable camel and other livestock production in the desert ecosystem.

Read something more about the plant in the link below.

Camel’s Flower (زهر) Tribulus is the Precious Flora of the Arabian Desert~ A Camel Ice-cream Species. Series 5

Tribulus is resilient, beautiful and important flora of the desert.

  • It is resilient to the hardiness of the climate and weather of the desert
  • Having medicinal value, directly and indirectly (use as a herb also indirectly through camel urine and milk)
  • it is perineal plant but sprouts in spring (March and April after rains)
Tribulus Plant
Very much liked by the camel, especially fresh sprouted with blossom in the spring after rains, therefore known as camel ice-cream species

Not only valued as camel food and ethnomedicine but tribulus is home to precious fauna of the Desert

  • Many types of fauna live inside and around the Tribulus plant
  • They either depend upon the nectar, or florescence or eat the leaves
  • Some makes burrows and home inside the plant to make it habitat
  • They are making a rich niche and ecosystem
  • They fabricate a very useful and efficient biological control

They have beautiful flowers and seeds

.The yellow flowers make it very attractive in the desert. It attracts the insects and birds from a far distance. The aroma of the nectar is also very appealing for the bees and wasps. The seeds are coated in a compound structure enriched with hair to maintain the moisture of the structure.

The pest of the plant

In the month of the February, they are very much affected by the small black insects like lice. The insects rely on the florescence for food and shelter. They drink the moisture and juice of the pedestal of the flowers.

Then the other factors, like other good insects, wind storm, birds and rain help the tribunals to get rid of the lice.

Here are the links of the articles about the camel ice-cream species in the link below.

  1. https://camel4all.blog/2017/12/17/the-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/
  2. https://camel4all.blog/2017/12/17/the-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/
  3. https://camel4all.blog/2017/12/21/part-2-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/
  4. https://camel4all.blog/2018/06/24/plants-that-are-liked-such-as-icecream-by-the-camels-part-3/
  5. https://camel4all.blog/2019/05/23/plants-that-are-liked-such-as-icecream-by-the-camels-part-4/

The Floral Diversity of the Desert

Deserts are the rich lands on the earth treasured with the well-adapted unique floral and faunal diversity.

The strongest, resilient, and very beautiful Ghaf (Prosopis) tree deep in the desert. See how strong she stands and faces the desert storms.
See the strength of the Ghaf tree, the national tree of the United Arab Emirates.

Camel Manure Compost Trial in Alain, UAE

Camel manure can revolutionaries the agriculture in many regions especially in the Arabian peninsula.

The camel manure collected from the milking parlor. The manure is slightly moist and best suited for compost. The manure from the milking parlor has the lesser quantity of the sand.

Camel manure is a treasure in reality but going waste, it is very unfortunate. In an article, I explained the whole story of the camel manure in the world, especially UAE. https://camel4all.blog/2016/02/02/camels-dungzfrom-waste-to-a-worthwhile-farming-agent/

Today (10/1/2019), I started a trial of the camel manure compost. I shall wait for 4 months and will open after that period. Then, we shall see the physical appearance, smell, texture etc.

The manure needs to be covered properly so that the air is out and we get a compost without smell.
I made a ditch in the desert, spread plastic sheet, put manure on it and covered it. Later on covered with sand to remove the air and press it tightly.
We dumped the manure with the sand. Now waiting for 4 months. The 2 blocks on both borders will indicate us the area where it was dumped.

I’m not an expert in this area, please always support me with your suggestions and comments. After we have successful compost, we shall make lab analysis.

Desert Provides Comfort and Habitat to Many Beautiful Flora and Fauna

Desert is not a hell of sand but a beautiful paradise for a wide and diverse floral and faunal biodiversity. Here, I share some pictures of the desert. I took these pictures in the different time period during my desert exploration walk.

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You can see different views of the desert in the pictures in the above slideshow.

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Here you can see different plants of the desert, some with the fruits. You can see the steps of the Gazal in one picture. I think Ghazal eats Calitropis (Akk) leaves, please correct me if someone really knows. 

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Here in the above slideshow, you can see different beautiful plants. These plants are highly palatable and the camel-like it very much.

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Different flowers with shining beauty in the sand. They provide a fascinating view of the desert. Such flowers are attraction and source of nectar to very tine creatures (see in the next slideshow).

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Beautiful small insects can be seen in the flowers and on the seed as well.


The specialized roots of the desert flora. See the Prosopis tree is resisting to the desert conditions with the support of its strong roots.

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Strong, multi and scattered roots. Some roots have the sponge like fiber coated on the roots to absorb and retain moisture.


The Desert explorer, this big rough and tough stick really helped me.

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And when the mother earth calls back the creatures.


Please love mother earth. Think positively. See the beauty and use your beautiful chamber of the brain. Do not throw rubbish in the desert, the tinny creatures suffer.

Inimitable Features of Camel! Answer to Complicated Questions of Future

The World Camel Day (WCD) is observe every year at the juncture of longest and hottest day (North Hemisphere of the globe! as this parts is the cradle of domestication for the old world camelids i.e. Bactrian and the dromedary) of the year. The suggestion of the WCD was initiated by the author and soon supported by many camel stakeholders and known international organizations.

Inimitable Features of Camel! Solution for Complicated Challenges of Future~ At the juncture of the World Camel Day 2014

The World Camel Day (WCD) is observe every year at the juncture of longest and hottest day (North Hemisphere of the globe! as this parts is the cradle of domestication for the old world camelids i.e. Bactrian and the dromedary) of the year. The suggestion of the WCD was initiated by the author and soon supported by many camel stakeholders and known international organizations.

This year, I was supposed to participate in the EC meeting of the ISOCARD in Almaty Kazakhstan (21-22 June 2014) to discuss the planning and programs for International camel conference under the patronage of ISOCARD. Besides my keen interest and measures, I could not manage to participate because of some logistic issues.

Thanks to Dr Younas (chairman of the Livestock Management Department and president of the Camel Association of Pakistan) for his kind invitation to participate in ceremony of WCD in University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF). This invitation helped me in releasing my apprehension as I was unable to attend EC meeting.

I travelled from my home town Loralai, traditionally known as Borai, via Multan. I stayed one night in Multan Fruit Market with my brother Rafiq. It was mango season as well as Multan is home tract of the delicious mangoes. Brother and his colleague offered me the incredibly delicious and juicy mangoes; Malta Sarohi, Dosehri, Desi etc. There are so many varieties and I really forgot the names of those varieties.

The next day (20th June) I reached UAF, the weather was very hot; reminded me the importance of camel. It was really a camel weather, harsh and hostile. In the evening, the hot weather changed into wind and later on in rain. The weather became so pleasant and heart touching in a while.

I met Dr Ilse Koehler Rollefson (she came from India via Wahga border) and discussed the issues related to camel and pastoralism. Dr Ilse is a well known German scientist/activist and work for well-being of camel communities in India. She was invited by Dr Younas to participate in the festivity of WCD and give her speech on ‘Trend and Potential of Camel in South Asia’. In the evening the camel dancing with the drums, students and academia participated in annual function of Faculty of Animal Husbandry (FAH).


The formal WCD 22nd June, due to some reasons the day was celebrated a date earlier. Today (21st June), a great ceremony was opened in New Senate Hall of the UAF. A huge number of media people, students, activists, academia and researchers participated in the ceremony. The camel milk brand Dachi Camel Milk was launched by the Department of Livestock Management of the UAF. Mr Rizvi (media person from NHK channel of Japan) specially travelled from Islamabad to cover this special event. Dr Abdul Raziq (author), Dr Ilse Kohler Rollefson, Dr Younas and others delivered the key speeches on different aspects of camel and its related issues.

Brief of the speeches

Dr Abdul Raziq highlighted the importance of camel in the socio-cultural and socio-economic context of the camel habitats. Camels enable life and livelihood of pastoralists in harsh and hostile ecosystems and produce unique food stuffs in conditions where other domestic livestock species are rather hard to survive. Camel produces eco-friendly and its water foot print are quite appealing. This is camel century and camel can really beat the challenges of the climate change. Camel is a unique model for sustainable and low input livestock production systems. Unfortunately, its role is never praised and appreciated at policy levels. Camel data is very scarce and unreliable sometimes. Due to calamities of climate change and other unknown reasons; camel is facing emerging fatal diseases like respiratory syndrome etc. Due to negligence, such havocs are never addressed properly; resulted in heavy losses. The WCD was therefore proposed and initiated to aware all stakeholders about the importance of camel on one hand and find ways to cope with the emerging challenges of the camels’ world.

Dr Ilse said that her visit to Pakistan proved extremely instructive as camel numbers are on the increase (1 million head; Economic Survey of Pakistan 2013-14). This trend is in stark contrast to the situation in neighboring India where camel numbers have dropped to around 200,000, according to in-official sources. She elaborated the details of the activities of LPP (League for Pastoral People; a German based NGO) regarding camel development in Rajasthan. She stressed to find ways for harvesting untapped resources of camel to enhance income of camel herders. The production of Bio-paper from the camel dung, camel ice-cream, Camel Yathra and knitting rugs from camel fiber in Rajasthan are the outcomes of unique ideas of Dr Ilse. She also expressed her concerns about the negligence of the policy makers, emerging diseases and lack of interest of the veterinarians regarding camel. She also gifted Bio-paper diaries to the worthy Vice Chancellor (Dr Iqrar A Khan) and to the president of the CAP (Dr Muhammad Younas).

Dr Younas elaborated the role and importance of the CAP. He detailed out the aims and objectives of the CAP and its role in camel development. He announced the next CAP meeting cum seminar in Lasbela University (LUAWMS) in February 2015. He told that the election of the CAP will also be accomplished in that seminar. Dr Younas also told about the research interest of students in camel aspects.

Dr Iqrar A Khan (VC of UAF) highlighted the importance of the camel in dry and deserted lands of the world. He said that it is really a camel century and he was very optimistic about the role of camel as food security animal in the days to come. He also expressed his concerns regarding the camel statistics and data on camel in the country. He told about his contact with camel culture in Sultanate Oman. He expressed his concerns regarding the weak interest of veterinarians in camel health. He told that while asking from the Veterinarians regarding their animal of interest; they always mentioned dog and cat as their favorite animals.

Speech by the camel hobbyist (Shah sab from Bhakkar) really fascinated the viewers. He told about the polite nature of the camel and its intelligence regarding learning the commands of the instructor. Sha sab was kind enough as he brought 3 dancing camel with the music band to celebrate WCD in UAF.

The director Camel breeding farm Rakh Mani at Bhakkar told about the on farm activities of camel. He presented his heartiest offer to researchers and academia for research and study different aspects of camel in semi-intensive farming situation.

After the first session in New Senate Hall, all the participants, media people, students and other stakeholders enjoyed the camel dancing with the drums. Different media groups shots picture, videos and interviews for their channels.

Second session was conducted in another Hall. Dr Younas and Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi presented on camel milk and reproduction respectively. Dr Qureshi highlighted the interesting and unique reproductive aspects of camel. He told about his experience in camel reproduction during his job in UAE.

Camel Biryani

After second session Lunch with camel Biryani (camel meat cooked in rice) was offered to all participants. It was so delicious, aromatic and tender meat. The experts expressed that camel meat export can be a good source of income for the camel herders of Pakistan.

Meeting of the CAP

After the dinner, the CAP meeting was incepted. Different issues were discussed in the meeting. The main issues discussed were; registration of the members, budget of the CAP, registration of the organization at country level and making different working groups. Tapping the role of social media in promoting CAP and its cause was also discussed and it was decided that a facebook page for CAP will be launch soon (the page is launched with the link as; …..)

 Success stories of SAVES and CAP

  1. Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) of Rohi Pastoralists of Cholistan strengthened and aware Rohi Community resulted in the inclined prices of their camel. Their camels received higher prices (10 times more) than ever. Biocultural Community Protocol is etiquette to documents the bio-assets of a community in their own perception.
  2. Dachi Camel Milk was launched by the Department of Livestock Management of the UAF which can be a good tool to materialize camel milk available in urban areas.
  3. Camel Biryani, an idea which can enhance the demand for camel meat; can boost investment in camel enterprise.

Author is president of Society of Animal, Veterinary and Environmental Scientists (SAVES), EC member of ISOCARD and General Secretary of the Camel Association of Pakistan..